PS4 NPL Victoria Preview: Round 10

The match of the round features a Sunday afternoon special as top of the table Heidelberg United take on third placed Melbourne Knights.

Bentleigh Greens v Port Melbourne
8.15pm, Friday, April 24, 2015
Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, Cheltenham
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, ‪#‎BGvPM ‪#‎PS4NPLVIC


We're a third of the way through the season and it's tight at the top of the table. Just four points separate fourth-placed Bentleigh from first-placed Heidelberg,  with the Greens holding a game in hand.

Comparatively, last year, the gap between the top two at this point of the season was five points, between first and third was nine points, and between first and fourth was 13 points.

It's a tight race, and now that Bentleigh is out of the race for the Westfield FFA Cup, the hosts will be throwing everything it can at fifth-placed Port Melbourne. But they'll have to do it without midfield talisman Wayne Wallace, who is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards this season.

Regardless of his suspension, it'll be a tough match for two sides that can score goals, but also have strong defences, with Bentleigh having scored 15 and conceded six, while the Sharks have scored 14, and conceded six.


South Melbourne v Pascoe Vale
8.15pm, Friday, April 24, 2015
Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, ‪#‎SMvPV #PS4NPLVIC


Despite its eighth-placed league position, Pascoe Vale has actually accrued more points from its last five games than second-placed South Melbourne. Vitale Ferrante's team is hitting form at the right time of the season, with a tough run against South, Gully, Knights, Hume, and Heidelberg over the next month.

Paco does have the bonus of being well-rested though, having had a weekend off after its Round 9 game with Bentleigh was rescheduled to early June. Their task won't be simple; unbeaten South has the best defensive record in the league having conceded only five goals in eight games.

If Ferrante's strikers are to get anything out of a rigid South Melbourne defence, Jake Nakic, Joseph Youssef and co will need be on their game.


North Geelong Warriors v Oakleigh Cannons
3.00pm, Saturday, April 25, 2015
Elcho Park, Lara
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #NGWvOC #PS4NPLVIC


With a new coach and a new captain at the helm, Oakleigh will be hoping to see some new results. The last month has been promising for the Cannons, picking up their first win, two draws, and a spirited loss to ladder leaders Heidelberg.

While Arthur Papas has inherited a squad bereft of points, there's no shortage of talent. But Papas' initiation back in the hot seat won't be easy, coming up against a North Geelong side which has suffered six defeats in a row. 

With every game that goes on without a win, Micky Colina's side will get more desperate. The Warriors haven't been poor, with four of those six losses coming by a single goal. If they had managed to convert those four losses to draws, the regional side would actually be sitting in 11th spot and out of the drop zone.


Hume City v Green Gully
7.00pm, Saturday, April 25, 2015
ABD Stadium, Valley Park, Broadmeadows
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #HCvGG #PS4NPLVIC


Hume City has had two tough 1-0 losses in a row, and Louie Acevski's men will be riling up his troops not to make the same mistake again this week. His strikers haven't been able to find the back of the net, but will find themselves up against a Green Gully side that's conceded 23 goals in nine games - the most of anyone in the league.

If there's any time for highly rated Cameroonian Calvin Mbarga to find his scoring boots, it's this game. Gully is up against it. Three losses in a row, including an 8-2 hammering by Heidelberg United, means the visitors have something to prove.

If Gully doesn't shape up, and quickly, the side could find itself in the midst of a relegation dogfight next month.


Dandenong Thunder v Northcote City
7.00pm, Saturday, April 25, 2015
George Andrews Reserve, Dandenong
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, ‪#‎DTvNC #PS4NPLVIC


It took Northcote almost a month of football, but last week, it snapped a four-game losing streak against North Geelong Warriors. The win against the Warriors was an important one, opening up a four-point buffer between itself and the 11th-placed Dandenong Thunder.

A win on Saturday will mean a lot for both teams; for Thunder, a chance to close the gap on the middle of the table, while Northcote needs a result to get itself away from a potential relegation dogfight later in the year.

Thunder has shown glimpses of brilliance so far this season, but has dropped points when it mattered. But a mature 1-0 win against Port Melbourne two weeks ago showed the young side can play beyond its years. They'll need that defensive fortitude against a Northcote side that can score goals when it's on its game.


Werribee City v Avondale FC
3.00pm, Sunday, April 26, 2015
Galvin Park, Werribee
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, ‪#‎WCvAFC #PS4NPLVIC


A resurgent Avondale FC heads to Werribee on Sunday, boasting four wins from its last five games. The newly-promoted side has proven it deserves to be in the top flight with a strong start to the year, and sits well clear of the relegation zone a third of the way in.

But Werribee is in trouble. The 13th-placed Bees have yet to win a game this season, and despite taking points off of Port Melbourne and
Hume in the last three weeks, its losses to sides in and around them like Dandenong Thunder that has hurt Nino Ragusa's men.

But last week's 0-0 draw against Port has proved that Werribee will be tough to break down. Avondale's Aleksiy Khrapko will have his work cut out.

Repeating last week's hat trick will be tougher against a side that actually hasn't conceded more than two goals in a game, and hasn't lost by more than a goal at this point in the season.


Heidelberg United v Melbourne Knights
4.00pm Sunday, April 26, 2015
Olympic Village, Heidelberg West
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, ‪#‎HUvMK #PS4NPLVIC


It's the game of the round. Heidelberg is on top of the table and this is its chance to show it belongs there. Melbourne Knights had a taste first spot early on, and will be desperate to get back on top.

If the Knights are to do it, they'll need to record a win over Heidelberg. They've had losses to rivals South Melbourne and Bentleigh over the last month, dropping six possible points that would otherwise see them leading the league by three points.

Meanwhile, Heidelberg is on fire. Despite only defeating Oakleigh 1-0 last week, it was the mark of a matured side to back up from an 8-2 win with a solid defeat of the resurgent Cannons.

One thing's for certain, this game will prove vital over the course of the season.


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